Leadership can be developed, observed, and performed
District leaders create the conditions for principals to lead effective instruction at scale
Effective and ethical organizational management are necessary but insufficient conditions for success at scale and over time
GLISI’s Framework of High Leverage Leadership
PracticesGLISI’s Framework of High Leverage Leadership Practices privileges research in the most successful schools and organizations. That research indicates that in effective schools, leaders exercise a combination of high-leverage practices. Those practices are represented in GLISI’s Framework as three interrelated and overlapping domains of leadership practice: team-based improvement, talent management, and balanced performance improvement.
In contrast to education leadership standards which focus on discrete elements of leadership practice, GLISI’s framework focuses on the intersection of the three domains. When leaders at the district and school level are able to lead teams in reflective practice; when they are able to find, grow and keep great teachers and leaders; and when they institutionalize the use of a balanced toolkit of data to make decisions and course correct, instruction and student learning improve.
The knowledge base for GLISI’s conceptual framework is drawn from research in the fields of business and education leadership, adult learning, and leadership development.
The team-based improvement element of the framework draws on research of school leadership that consistently finds successful schools are those in which leaders know how to effectively distribute leadership (Seashore et al, 2010; Spillane, Halvorson & Diamond, 2001) and engage teams in structured self-inquiry, reflecting, learning together and implementing improvement. This work is well-documented in research of professional learning communities in school leadership (Bolman & Deal, 2003; Eaker, DuFour & DuFour, 2002; Fullan, 2001) and research of learning organizations in business leadership (Argyris & Schon, 1996; Senge, 1999)
The talent management element of the framework draws on emerging research in the strategic management of human capital in education (Odden, 2011; Odden & Kelly, 2008) as well as well-documented research on managing talent in business. Essential principles of this work include aligning individual and organizational interests (Bolman & Deal, 2003); placing talent where it is needed in the organization (Collins, 2001); recruiting, selecting and growing talent (Senge, 1999); and putting structures and cultures in place that incentivize and reward high performance, while eliminating those structures and culture that reward apathy or poor performance (Argyris & Schon, 1996; Bolman & Deal, 2003; McGregor, 1996).
The balanced performance improvement element of the framework draws on research in measuring organizational performance. This work is most well-known as it relates to defining and implementing a balanced scorecard (Kaplan & Norton, 2000, 2004; Norton & Kaplan, 1992; Niven, 2003). It is not enough to simply have a laundry list of measures; successful organizations make it their day to day business to manage and monitor those measures (Poister, 2003). Perhaps most important in the age of overreliance on testing, the balanced nature of measures used to determine school success is of utmost importance. Test scores are only one of a broad range of measures that ought to be used to determine school and system effectiveness. Examples of the myriad other measures that might be used include teacher satisfaction and retention; parent involvement; and student attendance.
Finally, there is substantial research in the fields of adult learning and leadership development that is foundational to the work of GLISI. This research shapes how we define what we are trying to accomplish with our candidates and the specific ways in which we deliver and structure learning experiences. With regard to approach, our work is consistent with the principles of transformational learning (Mezirow, 1998). Specifically, we present new ideas to learners, provide opportunities to dialog with other adult learners to challenge and explore new ideas, follow this dialog with opportunities to test new ideas in practice in authentic situations, then complete the learning cycle by asking learners to revisit the new idea and reflect on their understanding.
In addition, research on adult learning conditions and specifically, the development of school leaders, guides the structure and format of our programs. A line of research has emerged that illuminates how successful school leaders are prepared. Essential findings of this research indicate that high quality programs start with rigorous and specific processes for selecting and admitting candidates with endorsement by school systems (Darling-Hammond et al, 2001, 2003); delivering a coherent curriculum with emphasis on instructional leadership (Darling-Hammond et al, 2003; Murphy, 1992, 1999, 2002); deeply integrated field experiences that offer aspiring leaders opportunities to practice leadership in authentic contexts (Darling-Hammond et al., 2003; Bottoms, O’Neill & Grey, 2002; Murphy, 1999); and high quality authentic assessments that provide feedback to aspiring leaders in ways that help them develop more sophisticated leadership skills (Darling-Hammond et al, 2003; Murphy, 2002).
Delivery of instruction to adult learners has also been well-documented in research and GLISI draws on this body of knowledge in the design and development of learning experiences. Professional learning must be clearly aligned to organizational purposes, must be embedded in the flow and context of the learner’s work, and must be individualized to learners’ needs (Hirsch, 2000). Research also has found specific conditions and modes influence adult learning. For example, periods of deep adult concentration for purposes of group instruction are no longer than 60-90 minutes; adults must have opportunities to engage in structured dialog with other adults; activities must be varied; and learners should have opportunities to physically move around (Merriam, 2001).